THE NETHERLANDS. ABN Amro is helping clients keep their assets hidden in tax havens via nominee shareholdership schemes, the Financieele Dagblad and Trouw say on Monday.
The papers base their claim on leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which cover 214,000 offshore companies, including a number with connections to the Netherlands.
ABN Amro, which is majority state-owned, is the only big Dutch bank to help clients in this way, the newspapers say.
The Panama Papers show ABN Amro has at least six subsidiaries which operate as nominal shareholders. One of these is Martello Nominees which is registered on the British Channel Island of Guernsey.
Martello, in turn, acts as a nominal shareholder in 25 companies located on the British Virgin Islands – so preventing the Dutch tax office from finding out who the real owners are.
ABN Amro has at least five other subsidiaries which offer similar services in the Channel Islands and in Asia, the papers say.
A spokesman for the Dutch central bank said nominal shareholdership is not illegal, as long as the banks keep to the law in the tax havens where they are based and ensure the system is not abused.
Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has said he wants to set up a central register listing all shareholders with more than 25% in Dutch companies to improve transparency.
Opposition and Labour MPs are now calling for a mini public inquiry into the way the Netherlands facilitates tax evasion via tax havens, broadcaster Nos says. An inquiry would allow witnesses to be heard under oath.
‘We want to know what tax constructions are being used in the Netherlands,’ said Labour MP Ed Groot. ‘Multinationals say their tax set-ups are legal. But that does not mean everything which is allowable by law is okay. We need better rules.’
‘This is the top of the iceberg,’ said Socialist MP Arnold Merkies. ‘If you consider that the Panama Papers come from one company in Panama, then the real scandal is much bigger.’
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